Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Search Of . . . pt. IV

“Soup again?” Tim slouched in his chair as he tossed his stained cap onto the sideboard. He’d just come in off the fishing boat and the smell of the sea was strong on him.

“Not anymore!” Karen Kaczmerak stood up from the table, knocking her chair to the floor, and seized both her bowl and Tim’s. Walking to the back door, she kicked it open – squeaking on its old hinges – and dumped their supper into the refuse bin.

“Jesus, don’t be like that. I was hungry.”

“Could’ve surprised me. You cook tomorrow.” Karen dropped the bowls into the sink as she passed through the kitchen marching for the bedroom at the far end of the trailer. Wiping his sleeve across his face, Tim got up from the table and went after Karen, his long strides closing the gap down the narrow hall.

“Will you come back here? What the hell’s wrong?” Tim caught his girlfriend just as she stepped into the bedroom.

Karen didn’t even look back. “Fuck off.”

“No!” Tim grabbed Karen by her right shoulder.

“Ow!” Karen pulled her arm away.

Tim’s eyes widened. “What happened to your arm?”

“It hurts, dipshit.”

Tim, stuck between anger and confusion, kicked the wall. “Fucking aye! What the Hell’d I do?”

“If you don’t know, I can’t help,” said Karen as she backed into their bedroom sliding the door out from its recess in the wall.

“What can I do so you aren’t so fuckin’ mad?”

“You could start by listening, but I’m not sure that’s even possible.” Karen slammed the door shut and turned the lock. Tim paced in a tiny circle for half a minute before pounding his fist against the bedroom door. Waiting for a response, he stomped back up the hallway when none was forthcoming.


Tim Suffolk first laid eyes on Karen in the local diner. She arrived in South Harbor in the early evening, slim and young; the way her blond hair fell around her shoulders sent a shudder through Tim’s midsection. The fact that she had reciprocated his furtive looks that night was a surprise. Though by no means an ugly man, Tim knew his receding hairline and weary face were not generally appealing to the fairer sex. They’d ended up getting dessert together, and when Tim discovered Karen was alone with nowhere to stay, he was more than willing to put her up for the night.

That night stretched into weeks, and for the most part, Tim had been nothing but happy. But recently Karen had changed. She didn’t smile like she had at first, and she seemed restless. Tim had tried to infiltrate her stern façade, but no explanations had been shared. So, Tim just went about his normal business hoping it would work itself out.


The digital clock read 1:43 am. Outside, the chime of the buoy helped bring Tim out of his slumber. He rubbed at his neck, stiff from falling asleep in the recliner. Slivers of moonlight slit the blinds, giving form to the shadows. There were soft footsteps in the kitchen. Turning, he watched Karen go to the fridge and pull out the pitcher of water. Lifting it to her lips, she took a long swallow and then returned it to its shelf. Closing the door, she walked back down the hall without giving him a look.

Tim strained to hear the lock click in the door as Karen shut it, but the only sound that came was that of the mattress springs yielding as she lay back down. With little deliberation, Tim got up from the chair and walked down the hallway himself, trying not to make a sound as he entered the bedroom.

His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he could see Karen lying on her side turned away from where he stood in the doorway. She gave no indication she knew he was there. He pulled the covers back and slid in next to her.

Adjusting the sheets so that they fell over his back, Tim lay there waiting for Karen to say something.

But she remained silent.

Tim watched as two minutes passed on the clock, and then deemed it safe to move closer. Nudging up against Karen, he draped one arm over her shoulder and she jumped, biting back the pain before taking Tim’s hand and moving his arm down to her waist.

“Shit. Sorry,” whispered Tim, afraid of breaking the silence encompassing them.

“It’s okay,” said Karen. “I’m sorry for earlier.

“I’ve just been uneasy.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Tim as he propped himself up on his other arm.

“Thinking about home . . . Dad . . . what he did . . . to me . . . to Cedric.” Karen started to cry into her pillow. Tim tried to roll her over, but Karen refused, pushing his hand away.

For a long minute Tim stared down at Karen wondering what she’d gone through and what he could do to get her to stop crying. Finally, he laid his head on Karen’s pillow and whispered into her ear, “Tell me about it.

“I’ll listen.”

To be continued . . .

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